Can a Call Center Help in a Pandemic?

Firstly I hope that everyone is staying safe and sane during this very weird and bizarre time in the world! What is currently going on is something no-one expected & how people have generally responded is nothing short of miraculous. There are of course exceptions out there – I’m looking at you toilet paper hoarders – but otherwise, I’d say in most cases people are acting reasonably well. However, how people are behaving does not really explain how a call center comes into the equation does it? Well, stick with me.

Now one group that is going above and beyond during this crisis is probably the medical profession. I think regardless of whether we’re talking about doctors, nurses, admin staff or even cleaners in the hospitals, those individuals have literally been putting their lives on the line to help us. I’m lucky enough to know a doctor and in one small way, I believe that I was able to help also.

The Situation

You see, many people are frightened by what is going on. Normally the doctor would be the perfect person to speak to for advice and information. But when we’re talking about a disease that seems to be this contagious, people are staying away from doctors’ offices. This tends to only increase the level of fear and confusion.

Now my friend wanted to help address this gap. So he came up with a very innovative solution. With potential clients and patients being frightened of meeting a doctor in person, he thought going virtual would be a good solution. However, this was going to be a free service so the overall cost was definitely a factor. Knowing that I was involved in customer management and experience he reached out to me for some guidance and help. So we came up with a strategy.

We basically split it up into three different parts. A website, a call center and a CRM. Coming from a corporate background, this might have been overkill, but I thought we could do it all at a reasonable budget. Luckily I was wrong!

Website

Create and launch a website to inform people of what he was doing. Why he was doing it and how it could be of use to them. The website was not only used as promotion though. It was an entry point with an integrated form that could be filled in. This ensured the doctor had the required information they needed to help. We didn’t really get into SEO and advertisement as that was not the function. He was basically going to promote it through his own local channels and with the current panic, had no concern about traffic.

Call Center Phone Services

Potential patients and interested parties needed a way of getting in touch. Here’s where things got a bit interesting. I found a company called MightyCall that offered a cloud-based IVR solution. This was a US-based company, but one that had operations in Canada so it was ideal. The best part – they had a special offer for Health Care professionals and offered their service for FREE for three months as a response to Covid19.

ChatBot

This made things super easy in terms of decision making. I’m happy to say that the setup was exceptionally simple and the features were more than I could have asked for. I was able to quickly configure an ACD/IVR for my friend with defined operating hours and voicemail services. In this time of social distancing, having the system point to individual cell phone numbers was super simple and easy. In addition setting it up as round-robin ensured that no one, single call taker got overwhelmed.

For anyone looking for a simple solution, I cannot recommend MightyCall enough. It is a great solution for a call center and can be easily expanded as requirements change.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Now, this was something my friend didn’t really understand that well until I showed him. By integrating the form into a simple CRM – I used Hubspot because it offered a free option – I was able to get all of the information into a single location.

However, the CRM had other benefits. In addition to providing a single source of truth, it gave us the capability of assigning work based on skill and availability. Added to this was the fact that repeat calls/emails could now be tracked and a record maintained of previous interactions. It all started to make sense really quickly.

As I continued to play with Hubspot I became even more impressed with its ease of use and capabilities. As someone that uses SalesForce on a daily basis, I’m used to complex systems. Similarly, with the time I’d spent on Freshdesk over the years, I was familiar with simple ticketing systems (well, Freshdesk is simple to use but deceptively powerful).

Hubspot however, seemed to be a perfect, happy medium. It provided a fully functional CRM, but one that didn’t require hours, days and weeks of study. In fact, I probably had it up and running for the purposes we needed inside of an hour. If you’re looking for a great CRM at a great price (you can’t go wrong with free!), I’d really urge you to look at Hubspot.

Now we didn’t go the full-service desk route with integrated Chat and Chatbots. That’s potentially a step we’ll take in the future as this offering grows. However, it’s really nice to see how technology can help in a really measurable way. For me, it’s even more important as I can say that I potentially helped save lives. Like the MasterCard add, that’s something that is truly priceless.

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I am an ITIL Expert and extremely passionate about customer service, customer experience, best practices and process improvement. I have led support, service, help desk and IT teams as well as quality and call center teams in Canada and the UK. I know how to motivate my teams to ensure that they are putting the customer first.

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